MID-SESSION REPORT (12.20pm AEDT)
The Australian sharemarket is improving for the first time this week, boosted by much better than expected employment numbers. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is up by 0.7 per cent.. Mining stocks are the best improvers following a tough start to the week due to concerns relating to China's economy and credit issues. The results of the monthly employment report locally and a handful of economic information from our largest trading partner, China are the two highlights today. China buys around 36 per cent of Australia's total exports each year.
There were 47,300 jobs created in February; three times more than consensus (market expectations). One of the most positive outcomes was the significant addition of full time positions. There were 80,500 full time jobs created while 33,000 part time jobs were lost. The unemployment rate remained steady at 6 per cent due to a rise in the number of people looking for work (participation rate). The Australian dollar shot higher to US90.6 following the data.
The mining sector continues to slowly make up for the heavy losses recorded on Monday due to concerns relating to China's economy. The world's biggest mining company BHP Billiton (BHP) is up 1.1 per cent while Rio Tinto (RIO) is 1.8 per cent firmer. Gold miner Newcrest Mining (NCM) is up 3 per cent and iron ore miner Fortescue Metals (FMG) is up 3.4 per cent. Despite today's surge, FMG is still down by 5.2 per cent so far this week.
The major banks were mixed earlier in the sessions; however are now all in the black with National Australia Bank (NAB) gaining 0.87 per cent, while the other majors are up by at least 0.3 per cent. The big four banks make up 30 per cent of the local sharemarket.
Property group Lend Lease (LLC) is up 0.5 per cent; partly making up for yesterday's 2 per cent slide following the fire at Sydney's $6 billion Barangaroo development. The damage from the fire could delay building and the market is hoping to receive an update relating to the damage by LLC over the coming days.
Leighton Holdings (LEI) is down 0.5 per cent to $22.13. German based Hochtief has increased its bid for the Australian construction company to $22.50 per shares for three out of every eight shares. This is an unconditional offer which is now awaiting FIRB approval. Shareholders will still retain a $0.60 per share dividend. LEI has terminated contracts of the CEO, CFO and Deputy CEO. LEI shares have improved by 22.4 per cent this month, have improved for three consecutive months and are up 37 per cent this calendar year.
At lunch, 899m shares have changed hands, worth $1.78 billion. 479 stocks are higher, 302 are in the red and 291 are unchanged.
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